One thing that is very much needed for the angler or outdoor enthusiast in Ireland is weatherproof clothing. Nearly any time of the year can throw at us the weather of all four seasons in one day. Weather should not be a deterring factor in getting out and about; there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
One of many options is the bib & brace and jacket set from Sakura. A two piece combo, the suit is put together with the intention of taking everything the weather can throw at it. The suit is put together with a striking combination of orange and black colouring.
Starting with the jacket from the top down, there is a peaked hood that can be adjusted with an elasticated liner. The hood can be left out of folded into the fleece lined collar. Moving down the jacket to just below chest height, we can locate a couple of zippered ‘handwarmer’ pockets. These fleece lined pockets will make the difference to an angler on a cold and miserable day. Below the ‘handwarmer’ pockets are two more unlined pockets, one in front of the other on each side of the jacket. The pockets sit back to back and the front pocket has a Velcroed flap to shed water away from collecting in the pockets.
The sleeves of the jacket are finished with a double cuff, one inner and one outer. The inner cuff is constructed from neoprene and is fastened, if necessary, with a Velcro fastener which will keep rain water from running up your arm. Now most of you are thinking that you don’t fish with your arms in the air but think of the angle most of you hold the rod at when you are playing a fish…… elbow bent, fist pointing skywards and a loose cuff will allow water run up your arm in this position. The outer cuff comprises of a simple Velcro cuff to tighten up the sleeve around the wrist. The whole jacket can be tightened at various points through elastic to keep out the worst of the cold draughts. The back features a Sakura logo and a well attached tab which would be ideal for holding a folding landing net.
The bib & brace is coloured with the same black and orange combination as the jacket. Again, starting from the top we find the braces that keep the dungaree style ensemble around your midriff. Slightly elasticated, these straps are light, simple and adjustable to fit anglers of varying heights. The expandable section that covers your middle section is expansive and when the wearer dons the bib & brace it is then fastened firstly with a zip followed by a Velcro flap. An elasticated belt culminating in a plastic buckle is the final fastening item for the mid-section to ensure a good fit.
Moving down the bib & brace shows that the mid-section, seat and legs are all made of hard wearing nylon with a polyurethane coating for waterproofing just as the jacket is. The right leg features a thigh pocket with a Velcroed flap to keep rain water out. Moving down the legs we find that the knee areas are padded which will provide a degree of extra comfort to anglers when baiting up/retying rigs/attaching lures. Finally the legs end with the same Velcro fasteners that are found on the sleeves of the jacket.
Product descriptions are one thing, field testing tells another story and where better to test outdoor clothing than in storm conditions in the west of Ireland. A look at the graphics will give an idea of the initial testing conditions that I wore the Jacket and bib & brace. 100 km/h gusts and driving, sideways rain should make for perfect conditions for testing weatherproof clothing. A day of walking in the countryside would expose any potential flaws in the materials and construction.
Wearing and walking in the clothing was comfortable. The suit is light, breathable and does not restrict any movement for the wearer. The bib & brace keeps the midriff covered and not exposed to the elements. Although I was not fishing I imagined that there was ample room and space to allow for fluid casting and fishing. The peak on the hood was handy to offer that little bit of extra protection in keeping the rain off my face and out of my eyes. The sleeves and legs also stood up to light abuse from brambles without displaying any worrying issues. I walked for a couple of hours in weather that you nearly wouldn’t put a cat out in and when I returned to the van for the drive home I removed the suit. Not a stitch of my under garments had even a drop of water on them.
The preliminary test was passed with flying colours. The second test was an afternoon lure fishing on a local river in very similar conditions, strong winds and driving rain and, again, the suit performed very well and kept me dry. The thoughts on my initial test that casting and fishing would not be a problem and this second test confirmed this. Crossing fields, fences, scrub land and country lanes, once again on returning to the van I found that all my under garments were bone dry. I did also have a powerboat licence course to complete that was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions and I did intend to wear the suit for this. That opportunity will present itself in the future.
In the meantime, to summarise, this suit is not a thermal suit. It is lightweight and breathable and if you layer your clothing underneath in colder conditions then it should keep you dry on even some of the more horrendous days. Testing will be ongoing but the preliminary trials have been very positive and I imagine that this trend will continue.
Update – The ensemble was used for the powerboat driver’s licence and performed perfectly. Completed in Galway Bay, the day was wild and windy with a lot of spray coming in over the side. I stayed dry for the duration of the two days. This suit has also been out on scientific survey work throughout the west coast of Ireland ad out at sea; it has been well tested. It was well able to cope with all the Irish Climate, the North East Atlantic Ocean and the Celtic Sea could throw at it.
It has endured days fishing on the Irish Sea and days by the river and by the canal. It coped with all a moody Lough Corrib could throw at it and shows little or no sign of wear and tear (apart from some dirt and fish slime!!!) Casting, walking and fishing was comfortable at all times and never once did the clothing feel restrictive. I have absolutely no problem recommending this gear which will keep you dry all year, just remember to layer up underneath in the colder months.